2024 OSWALD Awards

Clark’s Student Ambassadors receive OSWALD Awards.

Clark College students were recognized for their outstanding achievements during the annual OSWALD Awards on May 30 in Gaiser Student Center. These students were selected because they are Outstanding Students With Academic Leadership and Development Skills (OSWALD).

Clark College President Dr. Karin Edwards welcomed the students and their families. She told the students who will graduate in three weeks: “I’m incredibly excited for you. Don’t let anyone minimize your accomplishment. Congratulations!”

To all the award winners she said, “I want you to know how happy I am for you. Know that you are always a part of Clark College. You can wear your Penguin proudly.”

More than 100 awards were bestowed on Clark students in these categories: Academic Award, Outstanding Student Employee Award, Outstanding Student in a Department Award, Outstanding Student in an ASCC Club Award, and Outstanding Student in an ASCC Program Award.

The Penguin Award

Running Start student and ASCC Vice President Elizabeth Swift receives the 2024 Penguin Award from Dr. Edwards.

The final award was the Penguin Award, awarded annually to a student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and service to the Clark College community. This award is based on the student’s performance in the following areas: academics, leadership, community, and college service. A committee of staff and students reviews nominations and selects the student for this award.

Penguin Award Nominees

  • Stephanie Crocker
  • Melina Doan
  • Ziyad El Amrani
  • Sienna Hahn
  • Emily Subroto

Penguin Award Winner

  • Elizabeth Swift, ASCC Vice President

Academic Award

  • Jasmina Camacena, Communication Studies
  • Pamela Crawford, Communication Studies
  • Dorji Damdul, Communication Studies
  • Joshua DeWees, Communication Studies
  • Tysson Dykes, Communication Studies
  • Sidney Exum, Communication Studies
  • Vella Hongel, Communication Studies
  • Avery LeCocq, Communication Studies
  • Carolina Lovato, Communication Studies
  • Emma Mady, Communication Studies
  • Ian McCuen, Communication Studies
  • Cassandra McDaniel, Communication Studies
  • Natalie Perdun, Communication Studies
  • Angeline Stefanyuk, Communication Studies
  • Kimberly Troncoso, Communication Studies
  • Elliott Vazquez, Communication Studies
  • Spencer Venable, Communication Studies
  • Kristina Zubrovych, Communication Studies
  • Cameron Steiger, Communication Studies/College 101
  • Mieta Branch, Early Childhood Education
  • Vanessa Herrera, Early Childhood Education
  • Vash Martinez, Early Childhood Education
  • Brenden Prothe, Physics
  • Paige Cook, Sociology
Joshua DeWees with his supporters at the photo booth.

Outstanding Student Employee Award

  • Anna Bondar, Child and Family Studies
  • Olena Bondar, Child and Family Studies
  • Mia Caggianese, Child and Family Studies
  • Grace Chen, Child and Family Studies
  • Jozi Eller, Child and Family Studies
  • Cindy Ildefonzo, Child and Family Studies
  • Kristen Jensen-Minkler, Child and Family Studies
  • Aspen Mallory, Child and Family Studies
  • Uliana Rudoi-Kostyshyn, Child and Family Studies
  • Ami Teramura, Child and Family Studies
  • Naomi Lauser, Environmental Health & Safety Dept.
  • Cassandra Williams, Environmental Health & Safety Dept.
  • Jessie Donehey, Library
  • Paden Geddings, Library
  • Preston Hagan, Library
  • Daniel Diego Hernandez, Multicultural Student Affairs Peer Mentors
  • Tracy Fung, Multicultural Student Affairs Peer Mentors
  • Leonardo Miguel Gallardo Dextre, Multicultural Student Affairs Peer Mentors
  • Mercy Kariuki, Multicultural Student Affairs Peer Mentors
  • Susanna Sixto, Multicultural Student Affairs Peer Mentors
  • Zachary Pfenning, Transitional Studies
  • LilyAnna Babien, Tutoring Services
  • Caroline Campbell, Tutoring Services
  • Hailey Cassell, Tutoring Services
  • Anna Chaffee, Tutoring Services
  • Jessica Clark, Tutoring Services
  • Gurraj Dhami, Tutoring Services
  • Hana Feldheger, Tutoring Services
  • Eric Holtz, Tutoring Services
  • Grant Hovik, Tutoring Services
  • Kennadi Jones, Tutoring Services
  • Nicholas Le, Tutoring Services
  • Emma Mady, Tutoring Services
  • Michelle Nguyen, Tutoring Services
  • Ambrosia Stringer, Tutoring Services

Outstanding Student in a Department Award

  • Lindsey Bross, Art
  • Tanya English, Early Childhood Education
  • Sarah Timmer, Early Childhood Education
  • Ian Arellano Mendez, Music Department
  • Lana White, Music Department
  • Casey Nichols, Pharmacy Technician
  • Eduardo Ramírez, Spanish Department
  • Rohan Benda, Tutoring Services

Outstanding Student in an ASCC Club Award

  • Colton Coughran, Japanese Club
  • Jessie Mendoza, Japanese Club
  • Sydney Phanthamath, Japanese Club
  • Braedon Pitman, Japanese Club
  • Zoe Rojas, Japanese Club
  • Yaksi Amezcua, Spanish Club
  • Ayden Borgoyne, Spanish Club
  • Justin Cayambe, Spanish Club
  • Nathan Gauna, Spanish Club
  • Carolina Lovato, Spanish Club
  • Eduardo Ramirez, Spanish Club
  • Emily Subroto, Spanish Club
  • Stephanie Wagner, Spanish Club
The Spanish Club gathered in the photo booth for a fun keepsake photo.

Outstanding Student in an ASCC Program Award

  • Justin Cayambe Molina, Activities Programming Board
  • Hanna Colwell, Activities Programming Board
  • Austin Newton, Activities Programming Board
  • Jaelyn Sayler, Activities Programming Board
  • Mia Autumn, Aerospace & Robotics
  • Alex Kari, Aerospace & Robotics
  • Ethan Walter, Aerospace & Robotics
  • Emma Sturm, ASCC Student Government
  • Kathryn Johnston, Model United Nations
  • Chela Donaldson, Orchestra
  • Hana Feldheger, Orchestra
  • DayAn Le, Orchestra
  • Jackie Steidel, Orchestra
  • Ziyad El Amrani, Phi Theta Kappa
  • Michael Harrison, Phi Theta Kappa
  • Mary Harter, Phi Theta Kappa
  • Addison Johnson, Phi Theta Kappa
  • Natalie Perdun, Phi Theta Kappa
  • Nikhil Sahgal, Phi Theta Kappa
  • Fennic Tatum, Phi Theta Kappa
  • Connor Slattery-Piatt, STEM Nerd Girls & Engineering Program
  • Johanna Wagner, STEM Nerd Girls & Engineering Program
  • Madi Beck, Student Ambassadors
  • Kaden Cole, Student Ambassadors
  • Ziyad El Amrani, Student Ambassadors
  • Jude Georgeades-Tambara, Student Ambassadors
  • Mary Harter, Student Ambassadors
  • Tiffany Lounsbury, Student Ambassadors
Award recipient Ziyad El Amrani takes a selfie with Clark College President Dr. Karin Edwards at the OSWALD Awards.

Learn more at  OSWALD Awards (clark.edu)

Photos: Clark College/Susan Parrish




Veterans Center of Excellence Celebration

Bill Erickson, General Council Secretary of the Cowlitz Tribe (left) accepted an award recognizing the crucial support of the Cowlitz Foundation. Pictured above (left to right) with Dr. Karin Edwards, Cheree Nygard, and Donna Larson.
Photo: Monica Patton

Generations of veterans connected to Clark College gathered to celebrate how the college and its partners have impacted veteran students over the years. The May 21 event in Gaiser Student Center celebrated 10 years of the Veterans Center of Excellence (VCOE) at Clark College. The college has offered unique resources for veterans for much longer than a decade.

Several speakers shared the history of the Veterans Center of Excellence at Clark and reflected on how the VCOE has changed lives.

Cheree Nygard, chair of Clark College Foundation Board of Directors, a veteran, and a long-time supporter of the center said, “Reflecting on the inception of the VCOE fills me with pride and nostalgia. A decade ago, we embarked on a journey filled with hope and determination to support our veterans. Over the years, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of the VCOE on veterans’ education and their successful integration into civilian life. Together, we’ve achieved significant milestones and made a tangible difference in the lives of our military-affiliated students.”

Nygard added, “Today, I stand before you as a testament to the resilience and determination of our veteran community. The VCOE has been more than just an educational resource; it has been a lifeline, providing guidance, mentorship, and a sense of belonging to so many of us. As we celebrate our past achievements, let us look towards the future with optimism and determination. Clark College remains steadfast in its commitment to serving and supporting our military-affiliated students, ensuring they have the necessary resources to succeed.”

A video highlighted Clark College student veterans sharing their stories and talking about how the support of the VCOE impacted their lives and their ability to succeed in school.

William (Bill) Erickson, General Council Secretary of the Cowlitz Tribe, contributed a land acknowledgment and shared the importance of veterans to his tribe. A high percentage of Cowlitz Tribe members are veterans.

Clark College President Dr. Karin Edwards and Donna Larson presented appreciation certificates to those who have made substantial financial contributions to the VCOE.

Photo: Monica Patton

Jane Hagelstein (pictured above receiving recognition from Dr. Edwards), a founding member of Clark’s Veterans Advisory Board, began supporting Clark Student Veterans in 2011 with a scholarship. She continued supporting student veterans by providing funds to build out the Veteran Resource Center for facilities, staffing, and emergency grants. Her overall support of veterans with scholarships and emergency grants, along with facilities and staffing support has totaled $300,000 from 2011 to 2019. Without her generosity and belief in helping student veterans, there would not be a Veteran Center of Excellence today. She was a founding member of the Veterans Advisory Board.

The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation contributed $250,000 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing the VCOE to expand basic needs and to provide needed technology devices student veterans needed to transition to remote learning.

People had opportunities to write thank-you notes to veterans and to meet others who are connected to the VCOE.

Donna Larson, associate director of the VCOE, said, “This event was truly a celebration for student veterans, alumni, staff, and supporters of the VCOE to celebrate this important milestone. The atmosphere felt like a tight-knit family gathering.”

She added, “A short history of the VCOE was shared, along with several inspirational student stories. The highlight of the event was presenting Clark College student coins to Jane Hagelstein and Bill Erickson of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe in appreciation for large donations to support the VCOE. After the program, employees, students, partners, and honorees mingled while they enjoyed coffee and festive cupcakes and cake.”

About Veterans Center of Excellence

The center assists military-affiliated students with their educational journey. Focused on supporting veteran student success, the center provides a single point of contact to coordinate comprehensive, individualized support services that address the academic, financial, physical, and social needs of Clark College’s student veterans. A Clark College veteran is any military-affiliated student at Clark: veterans, active duty, or a military dependent, either spouse or child.

The center’s staff can connect student veterans to agencies, programs, and support. The center also provides tutoring, help with books and calculators; useful workshops; a study area with computers and printers; a lounge and games for relaxation; networking with other veterans, and more.

Monica Patton, Program Coordinator, and Megan Anderson, Veterans Educational Planner. Photo: Carly Rae Zent.

Connect with VCOE:

Timeline: Veterans Center at Clark College

  • November 2013: Clark College President Bob Knight began a new tradition: a college-sponsored celebration honoring veterans held the Thursday before Veterans Day in Gaiser Student Center. At that event, Knight announced the college would one day have a Veterans Resource Center on campus.
  • At that same Nov. 2013 event: Jennifer Rhoads, president of Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, announced in honor of the foundation’s 30th anniversary, they would donate six grants of $30,000 each to help alleviate poverty. The first grant was for Clark College to create its Veteran Resource Center.
  • March 2014: First open house at new Veterans Resource Center at Clark College—less than four months after the CFSWW announced the grant, the center held its first public event to welcome student veterans and the college community
  • Feb. 2021: The Veterans Resource Center received a $449,460 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish a Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success over three years. Clark was one of only two community colleges in the state to receive the grant. Focused on supporting student success, the Center will provide a single point of contact to coordinate comprehensive, individualized support services that address the academic, financial, physical, and social needs of Clark College’s student-veterans.

Read previous stories about the VCOE




Rocket flight test

On Saturday, April 27, the rocket team from the Clark College Aerospace & Robotic program traveled to Brothers, Oregon, and successfully launched their rocket, named “Emperor Penguin,” for the first time this year.

Here are some noteworthy highlights from our expedition:

The crew: Five students Ethan Walters, Vyacheslav Lukiyanchuk, Alex Kari, Rebekah Irvin, and Bladen Mitchell, and advisor Sophie Lin

The rocket: “Emperor Penguin” is 14 feet long and weighs about 63 pounds

The journey: It is a long drive (about four hours) to the launch site in Brothers, Oregon. Departing from campus at 5:30 a.m., the crew arrived at Brothers around 9:30 a.m.

Tasks accomplished: Demonstrating remarkable efficiency, the team accomplished two major tasks during the trip:

  • An ejection charge test to figure out the black powder needed for rocket separations, and
  • A flight test to assess the rocket’s design, construction, and avionics system.

The flight test: The rocket soared to an altitude of roughly 7,200 feet before safely landing approximately 0.5 miles from the launch pad.

Retrieving the rocket: Despite a glitch in the GPS system onboard the rocket, the team successfully located it utilizing a radio tracker, with an unexpected assist from a team member and her dog, who managed to find the rocket before the radio tracker.

Other college teams at the launch site: Two other college teams, one from Oregon State University and another from Portland State University, were present at Brothers, though neither managed to launch their rockets that Saturday. During the weekend, the Clark College rocket team was the only college team to launch and recover a rocket without any deployment failure successfully.

Returning to campus: Wrapping up their activities, the team departed Brothers at 7:30 p.m. and returned to campus by 1:30 a.m. the next day.

Next flight test: Looking ahead, the team plans to return to Brothers in mid-May for another flight test, utilizing a motor designed and constructed by their students.

Ultimate goal: The team plans to fly “Emperor Penguin” at the 2024 Spaceport America Cup competition in New Mexico, alongside approximately 160 teams from across the globe. Stay tuned for further updates as we progress towards this competition!

Special Note: Last year, Clark’s team was the only community college team among 1,700 teams.

Learn more

Photos courtesy of Xiunu “Sophie” Lin, Ph. D.




Healthy Penguin Nation

Spring campus photo with people walking under cherry trees

The Healthy Penguin Nation wellness program conducted by human resources and the college well-being team has been awarded the Zo8 Award for 2024 by the Washington State Health Care Authority. The award is given to employers who promote wellness to support employees and their families by sharing resources and conducting wellness initiatives focusing on enhancing health, reducing health and injury risks, and improving overall health and well-being.  

This is the second time Clark College has received the wellness award. The college last won a Zo8 award in 2016.  

Each year, Washington Wellness honors organizations with the Zo8 award for their achievements in building, growing, and maintaining an effective health program. Organizations are invited to apply to highlight their institution’s wellness program and initiatives throughout the year to Washington Wellness.  

Clark College received the Zo8 award by promoting health and well-being through the College’s Healthy Penguin Nation program to the college community through newsletters, events, discounts, presentations, fairs, campus emails, promoting programs such as the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and SmartHealth, a Washington Wellness program for eligible PEBB (Public Employees Benefits Board) employees, which offers employees an annual $125 wellness incentive.   

About Clark’s Healthy Penguin Nation wellness program

The Healthy Penguin Nation program is a college-wide initiative to create a culture of well-being in support of the state of Washington’s initiative to promote healthy lifestyle practices in the workplace. 

We aim to engage, educate, and empower the Clark College Community in healthy behaviors by developing, implementing, and supporting various wellness activities based on solid research and best practices. As the Wellness Team, we encourage the Clark College Community to thoughtfully consider their relationship to health and prioritize well-being for each other. 

We do this by adhering to a holistic model of well-being that focuses on the whole person—offering a wide range of resources that support employees on their wellness journeys in Eight Dimensions that influence overall well-being. 

Find upcoming Healthy Penguin Nation wellness events: CalendarLearn more here. 

About the Zo8 Award 

Each year, Washington Wellness recognizes organizations with our Zo8 Award for their achievement in building, growing, and sustaining an effective wellness program. A wellness program aims to help employees and their family members be their best through positive behavior changes. These changes focus on enhancing well-being, reducing health and injury risks, and improving overall health. Washington Wellness encourages organizations to use the SmartHealth Workplace Wellness Roadmap. It is an eight-step process based on industry-preferred practices to help build the infrastructure for a sustainable wellness program. The roadmap can help organizations plan for and target key areas for success. The Zo8 award represents the organization’s commitment to its employees’ well-being.  

To learn more about the Zo8 award visit the Washington State Healthcare Authority website

What do Zo8 award winners receive? Washington Wellness celebrates Zo8 award winners during an annual recognition ceremony. Winning organizations receive a physical award, certificates for contributing members, and a logo to use in publications, signature lines, and websites to recognize their achievements.  

About the Zo8 logo  

  • Name Zo: In Greek, it means “live.”  
  • Number 8: The eight steps in our wellness program project plan guide. 
  •  Logo shape: Flower of Life pattern is known to inspire.  
  • Colors: Based on the four elements that support life (air, earth, water, and fire)

Eight Dimensions of Well-being 

chart with colored backgrounds and icons depicting the 8 dimensions of well-being listed.

  1. Physical 
  2. Emotional 
  3. Occupational 
  4. Environmental 
  5. Intellectual 
  6. Spiritual 
  7. Financial 
  8. Social 




Faculty Professional Development

Nine Clark College faculty members have completed a new professional development certification for online teaching. The certification was designed by the college to address U.S. Department of Education requirements for regular and substantive interaction (RSI) in online courses. This certification was created, implemented, and awarded by Clark College, not the U.S. Department of Education.  

Congratulations to the following faculty who completed the Clark eLearning Active Delivery Certification as of November 21, 2023: 

  • Patricia Atkinson, Economics 
  • Kimbree Brown, Psychology 
  • Adam Coleman, Computer Technology 
  • Kate Cook, Mathematics 
  • Harold (Chris) Kernion, Communication Studies 
  • Mackenzie Loyet, Biology 
  • Richa Sharma, Communication Studies 
  • Charlie Sheese, Communication Studies 
  • Jennifer Stone Hill, English 

In addition to the above faculty, 20 more Clark faculty have completed one or more of the workshops and are on the path to earn the certification during 2024. 

Clark’s eLearning Active Delivery Certification launched Fall 2022 in its current iteration. The certification takes about 15 months to complete and consists of five online workshops: 

  1. eL301-Introduction to Active Delivery 

  1. eL302-Equity-minded and Culturally Responsive Teaching for Student Motivation and Success 

  1. eL303-Presence in the Phases of a Course 

  1. eL304-Active Delivery Strategies 

  1. eL305-Active Delivery and Scaffolding 

“It’s a badge of pride to earn this certification,” said Kathy Chatfield, eLearning Instruction and Design at Clark College. “What these instructors have achieved is a big deal. This RSI is the Department of Education’s way of regulating what is expected when teaching online courses.” 

Chatfield added, “This professional development certification is a critical aspect for Clark College accreditation. We’ve been very successful with our professional development, incrementally adding more advanced andragogy and skills for teaching more effectively with instructional technology.” 

The learning objectives for Active Delivery Certification are: 

  • Assess determinants of presence and related instructor roles 
  • Plan and develop formative feedback focused on student achievement of learning objectives 
  • Evaluate and apply universally designed, equity-minded, and culturally responsive active delivery strategies 

Originally, Clark began offering the certification during summer 2017, but it was in one lengthy institute that was offered just once per year. When COVID hit and forced all instruction to go online in spring 2020, the college redesigned the certification to divide the content into more manageable pieces and offer it as part of the regular eLearning workshops. 

Chatfield said, “We quickly realized it was too much for an individual to accomplish in a condensed format. So, we took the material and created five workshops, each taking two weeks of participation and a third week of submitting deliverables. We also designed the modular workshops so they don’t have to be taken in order.” 

Faculty do not pay to take the workshops or to earn the certification. In fact, faculty who complete the certification are provided a $500 stipend from the college. Additionally, those who recently earned the certification received another $500 stipend provided by the Faculty Excellence Committee via Clark College Foundation. Chatfield said the extra $500 provided by the Foundation likely will not be available after June 2024.  

Faculty register for professional development via Eventbrite. These 300-level workshops use the asynchronous online modality. All are facilitated by eLearning instructional designers. The workshops have had waiting lists.  

Chatfield said, “We’re not offering this professional development certification to follow the rules. We’re doing it because it’s just good teaching and learning. The research has been overwhelming that these are the best practices. Rather than just meeting the rules, Clark has always gone above and beyond to ensure our students are receiving the best teaching and learning experience possible.” 

Q & A about Active Delivery Certification 

Q: When did Clark College begin providing professional development for faculty who teach in eLearning modalities?  

KC: Clark College launched distance learning in 2005. We’ve been providing professional development since 2006. With every continuing year, we provide more advanced certification. We’ve been very successful with our professional development.” 

Q: Who are the people designing the components for this certification? 

KC: All instructional designers for the certification are adjunct faculty at Clark who currently teach at Clark. All have long-term connections with Clark. 

Q: Why create this certification?  

KC: The effort is designed to address Department of Education requirements for RSI (Regular and Substantive Interaction) in online courses. The underlying reason for more faculty to earn the certification is that we want Clark College to be the leader in quality online education. Clark College is currently offering about 13 degrees that students can earn fully online. We want Clark College to have a reputation for doing online learning well.  

Q: How can Clark College faculty register for Active Delivery Certification and Clark’s other eLearning professional development?  

KC: Clark College eLearning Events | Eventbrite 




The Inaugural True Voice Award

photo: Greg Parkinson

Professor Katherine Goforth, who teaches voice lessons at Clark College, has been named the inaugural recipient of The Washington National Opera’s True Voice Award for transgender and nonbinary singers. Goforth will perform at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in Washington, D.C. in May 2024.

A talented, celebrated opera singer, Goforth has performed in several countries and in several languages. For years, Goforth had been singing tenor in male roles, but it was a struggle to identify with the male characters.

While an undergraduate at St. Olaf College, a private Lutheran college in Minnesota, Goforth reached self-realization that she was queer and that this included her gender identity.

However, Goforth was unsure how to move forward in an authentic way. From where she stood at the time, transgender and other gender-diverse people did not get to participate in the world of classical music or opera. She had so many questions: How could she continue pursuing her dream of singing classical music and opera? Would she ever be offered roles again if she presented as a woman?

Eventually, Goforth told a small number of people she trusted. But she continued presenting male, using her birth name, and singing male roles, even though it did not feel authentic.

A decade passed before Goforth started to live her life authentically. She came out publicly as a woman January 2020, shortly before the pandemic lockdown.

Her Beginning

Goforth grew up in Vancouver in a home where “music wasn’t art—it was a part of everyday life. Part of my family’s life,” she said.

Encouraged by her parents, especially her musician father, Goforth began singing before she could remember and she first performed at 3 years old. She loved singing and she enjoyed performing, whether hymns at church or in a variety of choirs.

She explained: “I got serious about singing because I liked the positive attention I received from adults, especially from people outside of my family. Participating in music was how I navigated social situations, how I made friends, how I felt like I was worth something.”

At 14, when Goforth was a student at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics (VSAA), she started taking private voice lessons at her choir teacher’s recommendation.

“VSAA gave me the space to develop my own creative voice,” Goforth said. “We did tons of concerts and performances, but the projects that we designed ourselves are what most sticks with me, and the teachers who taught me to think critically and creatively.”

She said, “As I work to make spaces where we can deconstruct white supremacy and patriarchal domination, where all artists can show up authentically, I’ve found myself using those creative skills – creating opportunities where I can thrive, where others can thrive.”

At VSAA, she participated in vocal music, theater, and she played the clarinet. She also co-created a mural and wrote an opera for her senior capstone project. She graduated from VSAA and went to college to focus on singing. She received her bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College, Minn., and her master’s degree from The Julliard School, N.Y.

Since then, Goforth has performed around the U.S. and in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. She has performed in French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Russian, and Polish.

Goforth has excelled at thriving—despite the barriers.

Her Accomplishments

In the Pacific Northwest, Goforth has performed with Portland Opera, Bozeman Symphony, Walla Walla Symphony, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Opera Bend, Harmonia Seattle, Opera Theater Oregon, Sound Salon, Artists Repertory Theatre, Fuse Theatre Ensemble, Pink Martini and more.

She was a member of the International Opera Studio of Opera Köln. She attended the Franz Schubert Institut in Austria, Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme in England, Heidelberger Frühling Liedakademie in Germany, Georg Solti Accademia in Italy, and the Boston Wagner Institute in the U.S.

Goforth received the Career Advancement Award and was a featured speaker and performer at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s fourth Women in Classical Music Symposium, 2022.

Outside of opera, she played the role of Rebbetzin Tzurris in a reading of Dan Kitrosser’s “Why This Night?” for Artists Repertory Theatre Mercury Festival and played Emily Webb in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” for Fuse Theatre Ensemble, both in Portland.

Most recently, she appeared in Philip Venables and Ted Huffman’s The F****ts and Their Friends Between Revolutions that premiered Summer 2023 at Manchester International Festival, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and Bregenzer Festspiele, some of the biggest arts and opera festivals in the world.

Goforth advocates for the self-determination of trans and nontrans people. A member of the Trans Opera Alliance, she has lectured for Renegade Opera, published an essay in Opera Canada Magazine, was quoted in Opera America Magazine, and been a guest speaker for Boston Conservatory and the League of American Orchestras, among others.

In the years since Goforth the undergraduate student realized her authentic self, she says there are more transgender opera singers now.

“More people had the courage to come out during/after the pandemic lockdown, but they aren’t necessarily working in the industry yet,” Goforth said. “Now I’m working on coalition building. We aren’t organized enough to change the industry yet.”

photo courtesy of Katherine Goforth

We met up with Professor Goforth during Fall term finals week. She made time in her schedule to sit down with us in Penguin Union Building to talk about her journey, her passion for singing opera, and her values she shares with her students.

Q & A with Katherine Goforth

Q: What was it about opera drew you in and made you say, “Yes, I will sing opera!”

KG: Because I was good at it. I wish that my answer was more about how much I loved it. I was definitely obsessed, especially at first, but I got a lot of privileges when I started winning singing competitions. I didn’t learn to love classical music until much later, when I was in my early twenties.

Q: In your biggest and bravest dreams, did you ever imagine you’d be singing at the Kennedy Center?

KG: Always. Not necessarily the Kennedy Center, but I always imagined that I’d be on the biggest stages. That was what made singing feel valuable to me. That’s also what made it hard to come out. What if I lost access to these big stages, the reason I’d been pursuing music in the first place? Who am I without the privileges that music has given me? Those were really important questions for me to ask myself and working (continuing to work) on my answers to them has finally helped me grow.

Q: What was your reaction to receiving this award—and being the first recipient?

KG: It’s very difficult to be the first person to do something. There are opportunities, but there are also limitations. It’s felt important to push for the True Voice Award to be as expansive as possible, so that the next winner doesn’t have to be anything like me, so that they can push on the award to make space for them. It’s felt like a huge opportunity, because representation can be validating, but it can also be a way of limiting, of saying, this is the one acceptable way to be this kind of marginalized person. Especially as a white trans person, it’s important to me to push back on that. To say, I’m not the definition of what it means to be trans, I’m one of many.” Q: How long will you be at Kennedy Center? What are your criteria/thought process for choosing the pieces you will perform at The Kennedy Center?

I’ll be in residence at the Kennedy Center for a week, and I want my performance to lay a foundation that is going to be broadening instead of narrowing. We have a narrative in the opera field that when trans women participate, they sing male parts and present as male onstage. I want people to know that there’s no such thing as one kind of trans woman, and we’re not all okay with playing male roles, so I want to present a variety of other images. Definitely female roles, but maybe a male role in female presentation. Some songs that don’t require the singer to have any particular gender identity.”

When I was at Juilliard, Melissa Harris-Perry came to give a talk for Martin Luther King Day. She talked about the “I Have a Dream” speech and told us that one reason King spoke at the Lincoln Memorial was because of Marian Anderson’s performance at the same place in 1939. Anderson sang at the Lincoln Memorial because the Daughters of the American Revolution would only allow white artists to perform at D.C.’s Constitution Hall, where Howard University wanted to host her concert. I will never forget the way Professor Harris-Perry described Marian Anderson as “preparing the Lincoln Memorial as a site of resistance.” I may only be able to resist in tiny ways, but my dream for my performance at the Kennedy Center is that it might prepare the True Voice Award as a place of resistance against all that is imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal in our lives.

Q: In the last year, you decided you will no longer perform male roles. You said you came to this conclusion after having the opportunity to play female roles, including Emily Webb in “Our Town.” How did you come to this decision? How did playing female roles resonate with you?

KG: When I came out, I expected to keep playing male roles. That was the space that existed for trans women in opera. But when I had my first chance to play a male role with a major company after coming out, it was a painful experience. And then I had my first chance to play a female role, and it was so easy. I could relate to the character, I could react intuitively to my scene partners and my emotions, and for once, no one told me that I looked or sounded wrong. And in 2022, it became increasingly clear to me that I couldn’t continue to have parts of myself stuck in the pre-coming out and parts in the post-coming out. I would need to step forward with every part of myself, and I would have to leave behind the things that were holding me back, or I was never going to be able to move forward.

Q: What is your essential message—as an opera singer and as a voice teacher?

KG: First, the question: When we have a stage, what do we do with it? And when I say that, it comes with the understanding that every action, every conversation is a platform as much as any concert program. That we can act consciously or unconsciously just like we can choose the song we want to sing both consciously and unconsciously. That our choices in music and in life can be made in or out of alignment with our values.

And also, that we always have the power to think for ourselves. It’s like when bell hooks discusses the book, Powers of the Weak in Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center: we have the power to disbelieve what others tell us about ourselves, and to believe our own stories. We have the power to think critically, and to develop our critical thinking skills. We have the power to listen to our bodies and to act on that information.

Q: What are the values behind your career and your teaching?

KG: I’m always reading Black feminist and liberation theory and try to choose actions that are in alignment with what I’ve learned. For me, there’s no point in living if your life isn’t yours, and I found that my life wasn’t mine when I didn’t come out, when I don’t tell my truth. I think about when Audre Lorde’s daughter said, “Tell them about you’re never really a whole person if you remain silent,” and Lorde wrote, “the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak. We can sit in our corners mute forever while our sisters and ourselves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned; we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles, and we will still be no less afraid.” I think about this quote because that has been my experience. That reminds me of what it felt like to be closeted.

So, I’m always hoping that I can connect my teaching to my real life, and to my students’ real lives. Maybe they don’t realize it now, but they’ll realize it in ten years. I’ve had that experience, where I only realized what I learned in retrospect. And maybe they’ll never realize that I had a positive impact on their

thinking, and that’s good too, because what’s important is that the impact happens, and they think for themselves, and live a life that they feel is worth living. And even if I have a negative impact on an individual, maybe they learn what they don’t want, and how to be in a better situation in the future, or they learn to walk away from a situation that doesn’t work for them. Because my negative experiences can be important to my learning as well, and I have struggled to walk away from detrimental situations, and helping a student learn to do that might be the most important thing they learn at all.

Q: How do you instill the love of singing in your students? Is this different from how you were taught?

KG: This is a very complex question. To begin, I don’t think I was taught to love in any facet of my life. I hope that wouldn’t be hard for anyone who has been part of my life to hear, and I’m sorry if it is, but I don’t think love was part of the majority of my life.

To talk about love, we have to start by defining what we’re talking about. I find that, over and over, when I talk about love with another person, it means something different to each of us. bell hooks had two main definitions of love: that it is “a combination of six things: care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust,” and, quoting M. Scott Peck, that it is “the will to nurture our own and another’s spiritual growth.” When we look at love like this, it might not apply as directly to singing.

In addition, we have to talk about what we mean by the word “singing.” If you had asked me at 18 whether I loved singing, I would have said yes. But what I would have meant was that I was addicted to how good it felt to be onstage, to be applauded, to feel superior to others, to feel a sense of self-worth through my accomplishments.

So, I would say that I hope I’m teaching my students not to get addicted to adulation, and instead to develop a personal relationship with singing. To me, singing isn’t something that we do on a stage. It’s something that’s done in private, alone, day in and day out, when it’s easy, when it’s not. It’s connected to forming a relationship with one’s own body: how do I feel today, how does my voice feel, can I understand why I’m feeling those things, what do I like, what do I not like, what do I want to change, what changes can be immediate and what changes will take time? It’s not only how I feel in this moment, but it’s connecting what I experienced today to what I experienced a week ago, next week, etc.

Q: What’s next for you (not including Kennedy Center)?

KG: I’m going to Boston in March to give a recital for the Boston Wagner Society, returning to Opera Bend to do a production of La traviata where we’ll adapt a tenor role into some kind of female and/or trans presentation, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Vancouver Symphony in June, and work on creative projects. And hopefully some other projects that I can’t announce quite yet!

Learn more about Katherine Goforth




Fall Classified Staff Excellence Award

Andra, fourth from the left, with other Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion staff during an Opening Day event.

A warm congratulations to Andra Spencer, Equity Professional Development Program Manager from the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as the recipient of the Fall 2023 Classified Staff Excellence Award.

Excerpts from Andra’s nomination:

“Andra’s passion for equity and education is contagious. She dove into creating a PPI training on recognizing and disrupting antisemitism this summer and introduced many to a body of knowledge previously undiscussed at the college. Her sessions at Teaching and Learning Days and Fall Faculty Focus were packed and received overwhelmingly positive feedback and demands for a part two!”

“Equity is at the center of everything Andra does. Recognizing a gap in knowledge at the college, Andra spent time over the summer doing intense research on antisemitism and how to disrupt it, and developed a training for both Teaching and Learning Days and Fall Faculty Focus that was presented to PACKED rooms! Andra also developed training on creating inclusive learning environments, bringing her teaching expertise into her role here at ODEI and developing training specifically targeted to faculty, something that ODEI hasn’t done before.”

“Andra is well connected throughout the college – attending every event she can and volunteering to help out in any way. She collaborates with others on the team to execute projects and is always one of the first people there to set up and one of the last to leave after cleaning up. Her cooperative spirit is evident in her leadership on the Teaching and Learning Days Committee, the NWREC planning team, the O-Squad, Level Up, and many other cross-college initiatives.”

We also would like to acknowledge the contributions of the other nominees:

  • Becky Lindsay, Program Specialist II, Dental Hygiene
  • Nichole Maruca, Program Specialist II, Enrollment Services
  • Shelly Williams, Program Coordinator, Fine Art Division
  • Tani McBeth, Technical Training Consultant, eLearning
  • Teresa (Terry) Haye, Program Manager A, BASTE Bachelor of Teacher Education

About the Classified Staff Awards

The Classified Staff Excellence Award was established in 2005 and recognizes classified staff who have demonstrated exemplary work performance, a positive and cooperative spirit, special achievements or contributions to the college community, and supports individual and organizational diversity and inclusion. Through the support of the Clark College Foundation, the recipient will receive a $400 cash award.

Nominees must be a current classified employee who has been in their current position for more than six months. Award recipients will not be eligible to receive another award for three years.

Visit the Clark College Employee Recognition page to learn more about this award and other ways to acknowledge the value and dedication of our staff and faculty.




Quality Matters Award

Dr. Kathy Chatfield has been recognized for her outstanding efforts toward improving digital learning at Clark College.

Chatfield, who leads the college’s eLearning and instructional design department, has received the Ron Legon Leadership Award for Quality Digital Education bestowed by Quality Matters and MarylandOnline. The award is reserved for singular contributors to the mission of continuous improvement in digital learning.

Quality Matters is an international leader for quality assurance in online and innovative digital teaching and learning environments. Chatfield is among five award recipients who have demonstrated an exceptional dedication to quality in digital learning.

Chatfield’s work of improving online experiences for students includes building sustainable quality assurance processes at the institutional level. Clark College began offering online classes in 2005. Online classes were the first to fill and the first to put students on a waitlist.

Quality Matters stated: “The Ron Legon award acknowledges the impact Chatfield’s leadership has had on faculty, staff, students and the educational landscape at large through her steadfast devotion to the pursuit of quality assurance.”

In their recognition, Quality Matters added: “Chatfield represents a strong voice at both the college and state levels, where she helps sustain support for the importance of quality standards in online learning. At Clark College, she works to maintain the culture of professional development she has built among the institution’s faculty. As a member of the Washington State eLearning Council, she has championed statewide adoption of effective policy on digital learning.”

“I am very honored to have been selected as the recipient of this year’s Leadership Award for Quality Digital Education,” Chatfield said. “The rigor and dedication to quality that is involved in education and peer-reviewed course design through the Quality Matters organization inspires us to always strive for better, stay on a path of continuous improvement and seek greatness in our students’ learning. I am proud to represent Clark College in this endeavor.” Chatfield will accept her award at a ceremony during the QM Connect Conference Nov. 5-8 at the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. She has been asked to speak about what the award means to her.

“I’m diligently working on my speech,” Chatfield said. “My aim is to inspire others to leadership in eLearning and to recognize Clark College as being a leader, itself, in this field.”

Chatfield has served in higher education for 34 years at eight institutions. She has worked at Clark College since January 1995. She has taught part-time in person and online. She has served full-time in the eLearning and Instructional Design department since 2006.

About Quality Matters

Quality Matters is a global organization leading quality assurance in online and innovative digital teaching and learning environments. It provides a scalable quality assurance system for online and blended learning used within and across organizations. QM certification marks on courses or programs means they have met QM course design standards or QM program review criteria in a rigorous review process. Learn more at here.




Fulbright Scholar

Congratulations to Clark College adjunct piano instructor Melissa Espindola Terrall, who recently received a Fulbright grant for the 2023-2024 academic year.  

Melissa will travel to Mexico to study and conduct research in piano at Conservatorio Nacional in Mexico City. Her research will focus on Mexican classical piano repertoire as she works to publish an anthology of music from this era. While abroad, Terrall will also perform recitals featuring the work of Mexican and American composers.  

The Fulbright program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between Americans and people of other countries. The U.S. Student Fulbright program operates in more than 160 countries worldwide. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected based on academic or professional achievement, as well as their record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields. Fulbright grants provide funding for round-trip travel, maintenance for one academic year, health and accident insurance and, where relevant, tuition. 

Terrall lives in Portland. She earned a master’s degree in piano performance from the University of Kansas in 2022. 

Learn more about Melissa and hear her play: https://www.melissaterrallpiano.com/ 

Photo credit: ilumina photography




STEM scholars

The Mathematics Department is excited to announce the recipients of this year’s Sigma Scholarship. This scholarship was established in summer of 2020 to support and encourage students who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields to pursue higher-level mathematics.  

Congratulations to our 2023 Sigma Scholarship recipients: 

Abou Bakar Berthe 

STEM field: Mining Engineering 

2023-24: Clark College 

Oliver Rosas 

STEM field: Civil Engineering 

2023-24: Clark College 

Spencer Henwood 

STEM field: Computer Science 

2023-24: Portland State University 

Isaac Osorio Beltran 

STEM field: Computer Science or Engineering 

2023-24: Clark College 

Post and photos contributed by Kayoko Barnhill